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Gachon University Gil Medical Center adopts IBM Watson for Oncology

Gachon University Gil Medical Center will adopt IBM Watson for Oncology trained by Memorial Sloan Kettering, which is designed to provide physicians with evidence-based medical treatment options.

The cloud-based platform analyzes large volumes of structured and unstructured data to help physicians offer individualized, data-driven treatment options for cancer patients. This will be the first deployment of IBM Watson in Korea.

Last year alone, nearly 44,000 oncology research papers were published in medical journals around the world (1).

This amounts to nearly 122 new papers published every day, outpacing the ability of humans to keep up with the proliferation of medical knowledge. Using natural language processing, clinicians using Watson for Oncology will be able to quickly extract clinically relevant information from this trove of data to gather evidence specific to a patients' individual health needs.

Watson for Oncology has ingested nearly 15 million pages of medical content, including more than 200 medical textbooks and 300 medical journals. Watson provides doctors with access to information from peer reviewed studies, clinical guidelines, and expert perspectives.

According to the Korea National Cancer Incidence Database, a total of 254,952 new cancer cases and 75,172 cancer deaths are expected to occur in South Korea in 2016(2). The five most common types of cancer are colorectal, stomach, lung, liver and thyroid cancer in Korean men, and thyroid, breast, colorectal, stomach, and lung cancer in Korean women.

Located in Incheon, South Korea, Gachon University Gil Medical Center is the fifth largest of Korea's general hospitals with 1,400 licensed beds. Oncologists at Gil Medical Center care for 50,000 cancer patients each year.

Initially, Gil Medical Center clinicians will use Watson for Oncology to help treat breast, lung, colon, rectal and gastric cancers. IBM will work with Gil Medical Center to localize the offering based on Korean medical guidelines and language needs.

Uhn Lee, Director of AI-based Precision Medicine at Gachon University Gil Medical Center, said, "Our clinical staff always aims to provide effective, personalized, and evidence-based care to every patient we treat, yet it can be difficult to keep up with the latest scientific studies from around the world.

“With its ability to analyze large volumes of disparate data and synthesize that data into actionable information, Watson for Oncology will help our clinicians deliver world-class, data-driven care to their patients."

As explained by Mark Kris, MD, lead physician for Watson for Oncology trained by Memorial Sloan Kettering, "By combining Memorial Sloan Kettering's world-renowned cancer expertise with the analytical speed of IBM Watson, oncologists in Korea will be able to make more specific and nuanced treatment decisions more quickly, based on the latest data."

IBM Watson for Oncology has already been adopted at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand and Manipal Hospital in India. 21 hospitals across China also plan to adopt Watson for Oncology through an IBM partnership with Hangzhou CognitiveCare of China. 

"By integrating Watson technology into cancer care, Gil Medical Center will have the ability to advance its leadership in personalized medicine and technology innovation," said Rob Merkel, Vice President of Oncology and Genomics, IBM Watson Health.

Watson for Oncology will be delivered to Gachon University Gil Medical Center through the IBM cloud as Software as a Service (SaaS), enabling clinicians to access Watson's capabilities in Korea when and where they are needed.

Earlier this year, IBM announced it would bring Watson technology to the Korea market. This deal with Gil Medical Center shows ongoing momentum for Watson in the Korea market.